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source:qsjtime:2023-12-04 23:16:16

In the first place, something must be said concerning what is called the Doctrine of Emanations, a theory of prime importance in Neo-Platonic and Kabalistic ontology. According to this theory, everything in the universe owes its existence and virtue to an emanation from God, which divine emanation is supposed to descend, step by step (so to speak), through the hierarchies of angels and the stars, down to the things of earth, that which is nearer to the Source containing more of the divine nature than that which is relatively distant. As CORNELIUS AGRIPPA expresses it: "For God, in the first place is the end and beginning of all Virtues; he gives the seal of the _Ideas_ to his servants, the Intelligences; who as faithful officers, sign all things intrusted to them with an Ideal Virtue; the Heavens and Stars, as instruments, disposing the matter in the mean while for the receiving of those forms which reside in Divine Majesty (as saith Plato in Timeus) and to be conveyed by Stars; and the Giver of Forms distributes them by the ministry of his Intelligences, which he hath set as Rulers and Controllers over his Works, to whom such a power is intrusted to things committed to them that so all Virtues of Stones, Herbs, Metals, and all other things may come from the Intelligences, the Governors. The Form, therefore, and Virtue of things comes first from the _Ideas_, then from the ruling and governing Intelligences, then from the aspects of the Heavens disposing, and lastly from the tempers of the Elements disposed, answering the influences of the Heavens, by which the Elements themselves are ordered, or disposed. These kinds of operations, therefore, are performed in these inferior things by express forms, and in the Heavens by disposing virtues, in Intelligences by mediating rules, in the Original Cause by _Ideas_ and exemplary forms, all which must of necessity agree in the execution of the effect and virtue of every thing.

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"There is, therefore, a wonderful virtue and operation in every Herb and Stone, but greater in a Star, beyond which, even from the governing Intelligences everything receiveth and obtains many things for itself, especially from the Supreme Cause, with whom all things do mutually and exactly correspond, agreeing in an harmonious consent, as it were in hymns always praising the highest Maker of all things.... There is, therefore, no other cause of the necessity of effects than the connection of all things with the First Cause, and their correspondency with those Divine patterns and eternal _Ideas_ whence every thing hath its determinate and particular place in the exemplary world, from whence it lives and receives its original being: And every virtue of herbs, stones, metals, animals, words and speeches, and all things that are of God, is placed there."[1] As compared with the _ex nihilo_ creationism of orthodox theology, this theory is as light is to darkness. Of course, there is much in CORNELIUS AGRIPPA'S statement of it which is inacceptable to modern thought; but these are matters of form merely, and do not affect the doctrine fundamentally. For instance, as a nexus between spirit and matter AGRIPPA places the stars: modern thought prefers the ether. The theory of emanations may be, and was, as a matter of fact, made the justification of superstitious practices of the grossest absurdity, but on the other hand it may be made the basis of a lofty system of transcendental philosophy, as, for instance, that of EMANUEL SWEDENBORG, whose ontology resembles in some respects that of the Neo-Platonists. AGRIPPA uses the theory to explain all the marvels which his age accredited, marvels which we know had for the most part no existence outside of man's imagination. I suggest, on the contrary, that the theory is really needed to explain the commonplace, since, in the last analysis, every bit of experience, every phenomenon, be it ever so ordinary-- indeed the very fact of experience itself,--is most truly marvellous and magical, explicable only in terms of spirit. As ELIPHAS LEVI well says in one of his flashes of insight: "The supernatural is only the natural in an extraordinary grade, or it is the exalted natural; a miracle is a phenomenon which strikes the multitude because it is unexpected; the astonishing is that which astonishes; miracles are effects which surprise those who are ignorant of their causes, or assign them causes which are not in proportion to such effects."[1b] But I am anticipating the sequel.

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[1] H. C. AGRIPPA: _Occult Philosophy_, bk. i., chap. xiii. (WHITEHEAD'S edition, pp. 67-68).

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[1b] ELIPHAS LEVI: _Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual_ (trans. by A. E. WAITE, 1896), p. 192.

The doctrine of emanations makes the universe one vast harmonious whole, between whose various parts there is an exact analogy, correspondence, or sympathetic relation. "Nature (the productive principle), says IAMBLICHOS (3rd-4th century), the Neo-Platonist, "in her peculiar way, makes a likeness of invisible principles through symbols in visible forms."[2] The belief that seemingly similar things sympathetically affect one another, and that a similar relation holds good between different things which have been intimately connected with one another as parts within a whole, is a very ancient one. Most primitive peoples are very careful to destroy all their nail-cuttings and hair-clippings, since they believe that a witch gaining possession of these might work them harm. For a similar reason they refuse to reveal their REAL names, which they regard as part of themselves, and adopt nicknames for common use. The belief that a witch can torment an enemy by making an image of his person in clay or wax, correctly naming it, and mutilating it with pins, or, in the case of a waxen image, melting it by fire, is a very ancient one, and was held throughout and beyond the Middle Ages. The Sympathetic Powder of Sir KENELM DIGBY we have already noticed, as well as other instances of the belief in "sympathy," and examples of similar superstitions might be multiplied almost indefinitely. Such are generally grouped under the term "sympathetic magic"; but inasmuch as all magical practices assume that by acting on part of a thing, or a symbolic representation of it, one acts magically on the whole, or on the thing symbolised, the expression may in its broadest sense be said to involve the whole of magic.

[2] IAMBLICHOS: _Theurgia, or the Egyptian Mysteries_ (trans. by Dr ALEX. WILDER, New York, 1911), p. 239.

The names of the Divine Being, angels and devils, the planets of the solar system (including sun and moon) and the days of the week, birds and beasts, colours, herbs, and precious stones-- all, according to old-time occult philosophy, are connected by the sympathetic relation believed to run through all creation, the knowledge of which was essential to the magician; as well, also, the chief portions of the human body, for man, as we have seen, was believed to be a microcosm--a universe in miniature. I have dealt with this matter and exhibited some of the supposed correspondences in "The Belief in Talismans". Some further particulars are shown in the annexed table, for which I am mainly indebted to AGRIPPA. But, as in the case of the zodiacal gems already dealt with, the old authorities by no means agree as to the majority of the planetary correspondences.